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Cupola Gallery reaches 30th anniversary

Posted by: Sam Pegg
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30 years! 1991 – 2021 Cupola Gallery reaches her 30th anniversary.

“How on earth did that happen?” says a slightly bewildered Karen Sherwood. Ms Sherwood opened Cupola Gallery as an ambitious, optimistic and in her own words ‘slightly deluded’ 23 year old in ‘unfashionable’ Hillsborough, in August 1991.


In order to celebrate this remarkable achievement, especially after such an unprecedented 15 months, Cupola gallery is celebrating with a large diverse exhibition of talent across all media, from artists old and new, alongside a free programme of engaging arts activities.


Cupola 30 – celebrating 30 years.

24 July – 28 August. Over 70 artists are exhibiting work across all media. Work for sale.

30th anniversary celebration launch and exhibition closing party: Sat 28 August, 6 – 10pm

FREE programme of workshops, activities and events on our website.

Famously the gallery opened in between a betting shop and a launderette around the corner from the Sheffield Wednesday Football Ground. 30 years later the gallery remains in the same location, although the betting shop has been replaced by Cupola’s own quality bespoke picture framing service and the launderette is long gone.


Cupola Gallery, also known as Cupola Contemporary Art, opened to fill what Ms Sherwood saw as a huge need for an exhibition and sales venue for the many contemporary artists that lived and worked across the city. As a fine art graduate herself she was totally shocked at the lack of display and sales opportunities for artists in a city the size of Sheffield. Indeed, this seemed even more shocking due to the fact that the art college had been established for over 150 years at that time and there were at least three, if not more, vibrant studio groups in operation.


“I wanted to open a welcoming, accessible, high quality contemporary art gallery to celebrate the talents of artists and to sell their work. Too many artists were ‘packing it in’ because they could not make a living. I hated seeing that.”


To say it hasn’t been an easy ride is somewhat of an understatement!” Karen laughs.


“When people talk to me about all the challenges the gallery has faced, I’m often told I should write a book. However I am afraid that, like Mark Twain, I’d have to publish it 100 years after I’ve died! To be honest, rather than worrying about all the things that have gone wrong, I’d rather concentrate on the fact that the gallery is still here. I find that amazing enough. I keep thinking I can’t possibly be old enough to have run the gallery for 30 years, until I see the children of my customers I remember seeing as babies in arms, with their own children!


Cupola Gallery has shown the work of over 10,000 artists from all corners of the world a well as nurturing locally based talent.


The current exhibition cannot hope to represent the breadth and diversity of artists we have shown but we hope it reminds people that we never stand still, are just as keen now to experiment and push boundaries, whilst remaining accessible and friendly as when the gallery started. Cupola is a non funded independent gallery which does not fit into a neat category and nor does it want to. It is a gallery of passion and welcome. Oh and cake!” Karen Sherwood, Director, founder and artist.


Work on exhibition includes, painting, printmaking, indoor and outdoor sculpture in steel, wood and ceramic, installation, glass, jewellery, photography, decorative and functional ceramics, textiles and mixed media.




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